Pickering, W. H. (William Hayward), 1910-2004

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1910-12-24
Death 2004-03-15

Biographical notes:

William Hayward Pickering was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 24, 1910. After one year at the University of New Zealand, he entered California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1929. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1932, his Master of Science degree in Physics in 1933, and his Doctorate in Physics in 1936, all from Caltech. After graduation, he joined the Caltech faculty, becoming a full professor of electrical engineering in 1946. During World War II, Pickering conducted research on the absorption properties of cosmic rays with Dr. Robert A. Millikan, and investigated Japanese balloon warfare techniques for the Army Air Corps.

Pickering was invited to join the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 1944, on the basis of his experience in the design and use of telemetring devices. He was named chief of the Remote Control Section at JPL. Beginning in 1949, Pickering headed the Corporal and Sergeant missile programs, and in 1954 he succeeded Louis Dunn as Laboratory Director.

In November 1957 JPL and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency were directed to prepare and orbit an artificial satellite, in the wake of the launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, and the failure of the American Vanguard satellite. Explorer 1, the first U.S. artificial satellite, was launched on January 31, 1958.

In December 1958 JPL was transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In January 1959 JPL was assigned the responsibility for the robotic exploration of the moon and planets. Under Pickering's direction, JPL supervised the Ranger missions returning the first close-up, high-resolution pictures of the lunar surface; he also supervised the Surveyor soft-landers on the Moon; the Mariner missions to Mars and Venus; and the first gravity assist mission to Mercury, via Venus. JPL also designed the Viking Orbiters to Mars and designed and built the Voyager spacecraft for their mission to the outer planets.

After Pickering's retirement from JPL in 1976, he directed the Research Institutes of Saudi Arabia's University of Petroleum and Minerals. In 1978 he returned to California and established the Pickering Research Corporation for space related projects. In 1983, he formed Lignetics, Inc., to manufacture wood pellets from wood waste for use in home heating.

Pickering has received numerous national and international honors, which include NASA's Distinguished Service Medal, the Prix Galabert of France, Italy's Order of Merit. Pickering was also awarded the Robert H. Goddard Trophy from the National Space Club, the British Interplanetary Society's Special Award, the 1957 James Wyld Award of the American Rocket Society, the 1959 U.S. Army Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the 1969 Louis B. Hill Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the 1968 Arthur Noble Award from the City of Pasadena and in 1993 the inaugural Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Aerospace Prize. Pickering was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1963 and 1965, and was Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1963.

Pickering has also been honored by national leaders. In 1975, he was awarded the National Medal of Science from President Gerald Ford. In 1976, Pickering was made an "Honorary Knight Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire" by Queen Elizabeth, and in 1994 he was awarded the Japan Prize by Emperor Akihito.

From the description of William H. Pickering Speech Collection, 1955-1975. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733100274

William Hayward Pickering was born in Wellington, New Zealand, December 24, 1910. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1932 and his Master of Science degree, (Physics) in 1933. He was a Coffin Fellow 1933-35 and received his Doctorate degree, (Physics) in 1936. He lectured at California Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California during the intervening years in the fields of physical sciences, electrical engineering, cosmic rays, microwave propagation, cosmic ray engineering, and cosmic ray radio sondes.

Pickering became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1941 and served in a civilian capacity with the Departments of the Air Force, Navy and Army at various times in his career. Pickering's first lecture at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces was titled "The Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the Army Ordnance Corps."

He was invited to join JPL in 1944 as a result of his experience in the design and use of telemetering devices, which he subsequently developed for the Laboratory's high-velocity research vehicles. Beginning in 1949 he headed the Corporal and Sergeant missile programs, and in 1954 he succeeded Louis Dunn as Director of JPL.

In 1958, a few months after the Soviet Sputnik, JPL successfully launched Explorer 1. That same year, JPL which had been under the direction of the Army, was transferred to NASA with the responsibility for unmanned exploration of the moon and planets. Under Pickering's direction, the Laboratory launched the Ranger missions returning the first close-up, high-resolution pictures of the lunar surface; the Surveyor soft-landers on the moon; the Mariner missions to Mars and Venus; and the first gravity-assist mission to Mercury via Venus. JPL also designed the Viking orbiter to Mars and designed and built the Voyagers for the outer planets mission.

Following his retirement from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1976, he directed the Research Institutes of Saudi Arabia's University of Petroleum and Minerals. He returned to California in 1978 and established the Pickering Research Corporation for space related projects, ranging from a report on nuclear safety to an image processing system in China. In 1983, responding to the energy crisis, he formed Lignetics, Inc., to manufacture wood pellets from wood waste.

Pickering has been awarded many national and international awards and prizes, including the National Medal of Science, Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire, Spirit of St. Louis Medal of Science, Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire, Spirit of St. Louis Medal, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Columbus Gold Medal, the first Francois-Xavier Bagnoud International Aerospace Prize and the Japan Prize, among others. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering.

From the description of William H. Pickering Committee Organizations Collection, 1962-1970. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733100121

William Hayward Pickering was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 24, 1910. After one year at the University of New Zealand, he emigrated to the United States and entered California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1929. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1932, his Master of Science degree in Physics in 1933, and his Doctorate in Physics in 1936, all from Caltech. He bacame a naturalized American citizen in February 1941. After graduation, he joined the Caltech faculty, becoming a full professor of electrical engineering in 1946. During World War II, Pickering conducted research on the absorption properties of cosmic rays with Dr. Robert A. Millikan, and investigated Japanese balloon warfare techniques for the Army Air Corps.

Pickering was invited to join the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 1944, on the basis of his experience in the design and use of telemetring devices. He was named chief of the Remote Control Section at JPL. Beginning in 1949, Pickering headed the Corporal and Sergeant missile programs, and in 1954 he succeeded Louis Dunn as Laboratory Director.

In November 1957 JPL and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency were directed to prepare and orbit an artificial satellite, in the wake of the launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, and the failure of the American Vanguard satellite. Explorer 1, the first U.S. artificial satellite, was launched on January 31, 1958.

In December 1958 JPL was transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In January 1959 JPL was assigned the responsibility for the robotic exploration of the moon and planets. Under Pickering's direction, JPL supervised the Ranger missions returning the first close-up, high-resolution pictures of the lunar surface; he also supervised the Surveyor soft-landers on the Moon; the Mariner missions to Mars and Venus; and the first gravity assist mission to Mercury, via Venus. JPL also designed the Viking Orbiters to Mars and designed and built the Voyager spacecraft for their mission to the outer planets.

After Pickering's retirement from JPL in 1976, he directed the Research Institutes of Saudi Arabia's University of Petroleum and Minerals. In 1978 he returned to California and established the Pickering Research Corporation for space related projects. In 1983, he formed Lignetics, Inc., to manufacture wood pellets from wood waste for use in home heating.

From the description of William H. Pickering Speech Reference Collection, 1959-1974. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733100796

William Hayward Pickering was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 24, 1910. After one year at the University of New Zealand, he emigrated to the United States and entered California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1929. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1932, his Master of Science degree in Physics in 1933, and his Doctorate in Physics in 1936, all from Caltech. He bacame a naturalized American citizen in February 1941. After graduation, he joined the Caltech faculty, becoming a full professor of electrical engineering in 1946. During World War II, Pickering conducted research on the absorption properties of cosmic rays with Dr. Robert A. Millikan, and investigated Japanese balloon warfare techniques for the Army Air Corps.

Pickering was invited to join the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 1944, on the basis of his experience in the design and use of telemetering devices. He was named chief of the Remote Control Section at JPL. Beginning in 1949, Pickering headed the Corporal and Sergeant missile programs, and in 1954 he succeeded Louis Dunn as Laboratory Director.

In November 1957 JPL and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency were directed to prepare and orbit an artificial satellite, in the wake of the launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, and the failure of the American Vanguard satellite. Explorer 1, the first U.S. artificial satellite, was launched on January 31, 1958.

In December 1958 JPL was transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In January 1959 JPL was assigned the responsibility for the robotic exploration of the moon and planets. Under Pickering's direction, JPL supervised the Ranger missions returning the first close-up, high-resolution pictures of the lunar surface; he also supervised the Surveyor soft-landers on the Moon; the Mariner missions to Mars and Venus; and the first gravity assist mission to Mercury, via Venus. JPL also designed the Viking Orbiters to Mars and designed and built the Voyager spacecraft for their mission to the outer planets.

After Pickering's retirement from JPL in 1976, he directed the Research Institutes of Saudi Arabia's University of Petroleum and Minerals. In 1978 he returned to California and established the Pickering Research Corporation for space related projects. In 1983, he formed Lignetics, Inc., to manufacture wood pellets from wood waste for use in home heating.

Pickering has received numerous national and international honors. These honors include: the Meritorious Civilian Service Commendation, U.S. Army, 1945; the James Wyld Memorial Award, American Rocket Society, 1957; the IRE Annual Award, 1958; the Space Flight Achievement Award, National Industry-Missile Conference, 1959; the U.S. Army Distinguished Civilian Service Award, 1959; the Air Force Association Award, LA Chapter, Air Force Association, 1962-63; Grand Marshall, Tournament of Roses Parade, 1963; the George Washington Achievement Award, Southern California Engineering Societies, 1963; the Columbus Gold Medal, International Institute of Communications, 1964; the Golden Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement, 1964; the Italian Order of Merit, Republic of Italy, 1965; the Galabert International Astronautics Award, 1965; the Special Award, British Interplanetary Society, 1965; the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, National Space Club, 1965; the Man of the Year Award, Association of the U.S. Army, 1965; the Crozier Gold Medal, American Ordnance Association, 1965; the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, 1965; the Proctor Prize, Scientific Research Society of America (RESA), 1965; the Spirit of St. Louis Medal, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1965; the Magellanic Premium, American Philosophical Society, 1966; the Space Trustees Award, California Museum of Science and Industry, 1966; the Pasadena Citizens Award, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, 1967; the Man of the Year, Industrial Research Institute, 1968; the Arthur Noble Award, City of Pasadena, 1968; the La Canadan of the Year Award, Kiwanis Club, 1968; the Space Flight Award, American Astronautics Society, 1968; the Louis W. Hill Transportation Award, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1968; the Myrtle Wreath Award, Hadassah, 1968; the Golden Omega Award, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 1968; the Gold Cup Man of Achievement Award, Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, 1969; Outstanding American, Los Angeles Philanthropic Association, 1969; the Interprofessional Cooperation Award, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 1970; the Edison Medal, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, 1972; the George C. Marshall Medal, Association of the United States Army, 1972; the Crown City Award, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, 1972; the Community Service Award, Salvation Army, 1972; the Gugliemo Marconi Award, Marconi Foundation, 1974; the NASA Presidential Management Improvement Award, 1974; the Medal of Achievement, WEMA, 1975; Honourary Knight Commander of the Civil Division of Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1975; the Distinguished Leadership Award, Verdugo Hills Hospital, 1976; the President's National Medal of Science, 1976; the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Aerospace Prize, 1993; the Japan Prize, Nation of Japan, 1994.

Victoria L. ("Vicki") Melikan was born in Highland Park, Michigan, in 1928. She received her bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Wayne State University, and continued her education in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to joining JPL as Special Assistant to the Director in 1964, she was a member of the Defense Systems Division of General Motors Corporation. Her responsibilities at JPL included protocol, Congressional liaison, and public information.

After Pickering's retirement from JPL in 1976, Melikan became JPL's Legislative Affairs and Protocol Officer, Section 184, a position she held until 1985. She then left JPL and became Pickering's assistant at Lignetics. She married Glenn E. Lairmore, manager of Division 310 Data Systems. Lairmore died at the age of 71 on February 8, 1992.

From the description of William H. Pickering Office File Collection, 1955-1976. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733100789

William Hayward Pickering was born in Wellington, New Zealand, December 24, 1910. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1932 and his Master of Science degree, (Physics) in 1933. He was a Coffin Fellow 1933-35 and received his Doctorate degree, (Physics) in 1936. He lectured at California Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California during the intervening years in the fields of physical sciences, electrical engineering, cosmic rays, microwave propagation, cosmic ray engineering, and cosmic ray radio sondes.

Pickering became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1941 and served in a civilian capacity with the Departments of the Air Force, Navy and Army at various times in his career. Pickering's first lecture at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces was titled "The Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the Army Ordnance Corps." He was invited to join JPL in 1944 as a result of his experience in the design and use of telemetering devices, which he subsequently developed for the Laboratory's high-velocity research vehicles. Beginning in 1949 he headed the Corporal and Sergeant missile programs, and in 1954 he succeeded Louis Dunn as Director of JPL.

In 1958, a few months after the Soviet Sputnik, JPL successfully launched Explorer 1. That same year JPL, which had been under the direction of the Army, was transferred to NASA with the responsibility for unmanned exploration of the moon and planets. Under Pickering's direction, the Laboratory launched the Ranger missions returning the first close-up, high-resolution pictures of the lunar surface; the Surveyor soft-landers on the moon; the Mariner mission to Mars and Venus; and the first gravity-assist mission to Mercury via Venus. JPL also designed the Viking orbiter to Mars and designed and built the Voyagers for the outer planets mission.

Following his retirement from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1976, he directed the Research Institutes of Saudi Arabia's University of Petroleum and Minerals. He returned to California in 1978 and established the Pickering Research Corporation for space related projects, ranging from a report on nuclear safety to an image processing system in China. In 1983, responding to the energy crisis, he formed Lignetics, Inc., to manufacture wood pellets from wood waste.

Pickering has been awarded many national and international awards and prizes, including the National Medal of Science, Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire, Spirit of St. Louis Medal of Science, Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire, Spirit of St. Louis Medal, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Columbus Gold Medal, the first Francois-Xavier Bagnoud International Aerospace Prize and the Japan Prize, among others. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering.

From the description of William H. Pickering Publications Collection, 1932-1971. (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Library and Archives). WorldCat record id: 733100109

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Subjects:

  • Ranger project :
  • Quality control
  • Policies
  • Personnel management
  • Soviet spacecraft
  • Surveyor project :
  • Viking spacecraft
  • priorities
  • Vega project
  • Corporal missile
  • Venus (planet)
  • Financial management
  • Reliability analysis
  • Mars (planet)
  • Research projects
  • Ranger lunar probes
  • Mariner 5 space probe
  • Systems
  • Solar electric propulsion
  • facilities
  • Explorer 1 satellite
  • Lunar programs
  • Atlas agena launch vehicle:
  • Vanguard satellite
  • Mariner 2 space probe
  • Concorde aircraft
  • Sputnik 1 satellite
  • Education
  • Moon
  • project management
  • International system of units
  • contract management
  • Reliability
  • telemetry
  • Securities
  • Surveyor 1 lunar probe
  • Lunar orbiter
  • Management
  • Mariner 9 space probe
  • schedules
  • United States--National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Documentation
  • Photographs
  • Technology transfer
  • Planetary exploration
  • Mercury (planet)
  • Records management
  • Vanguard 1 satellite
  • Spacecraft propulsion
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.)
  • Explorer satellites
  • Helios project
  • Murray River Region (N.S.W.--S. Aust.)--Social conditions
  • Standards
  • Space programs
  • Systems engineering
  • Voyager project :
  • Document
  • Ranger 7 lunar probe:
  • Planning
  • Launch vehicles
  • Loki missile
  • Upper atmosphere
  • Juno launch vehicles
  • Mariner 10 space probe
  • Telecommunication
  • Mariner space probes
  • Position (title)
  • Weapon systems
  • Mariner 4 space probe
  • tracking stations
  • SPACE EXPLORATION : 2 nasat
  • space exploration
  • Manned space flight
  • Apollo 11 flight
  • MANAGEMENT nasat
  • Deep Space Network
  • Cooperation
  • Loki rocket vehicle
  • Mariner program :
  • Surveyor 5 lunar probe
  • Weapons development
  • Aerospace sciences
  • Flight operations
  • Goals
  • Farm life
  • Strategy
  • Organization
  • Summaries
  • Surveyor 6 lunar probe
  • Operations
  • Sergeant missile
  • Surveyor 7 lunar probe
  • Aerial photography
  • Surveys
  • management planning
  • procurement policy
  • Research and development
  • personnel
  • Surveyor lunar probes
  • Procurement
  • PERSONNEL nasat

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Goodnight (N.S.W.) (as recorded)
  • Australia--Thistlebank (N.S.W.) (as recorded)
  • Thistlebank (N.S.W.) (as recorded)